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UW-Eau Claire to Recognize Service-Learning
Participants at Annual Recognition Breakfast
MAILED: April 10, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — The Center for Service-Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will hold its fourth annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast from 7:30-9 a.m. April 17, in the Tamarack Room of Davies Center.
The event has grown each year, with approximately 100 people expected to attend this year's recognition.
According to Dr. Donald Mowry, recently named director of the Service-Learning program, more than 400 community partners and UW-Eau Claire faculty mentors and supervisors have contributed to the success of the innovative program, the only one of its kind in the UW System. This year all participants have been invited to the event, said Mowry, who has been involved with the Service-Learning program from its inception.
Although every participant is being recognized and honored at the breakfast, a few people who have been particularly instrumental in developing and improving the program will receive special recognition. They will receive plaques recognizing their service, and a permanent plaque where names can be added each year will be hung on campus.
All students at UW-Eau Claire must complete 30 hours of service-learning activity to graduate, with activities including a range of options. Many students choose to help in non-profit agencies such as the Bolton Refuge House; the Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Special Olympics; or The Community Table, where they pitch in like other community volunteers, supervised by the professionals who staff these agencies.
But each year, UW- Eau Claire faculty members come up with creative new ways for students, and sometimes entire classes, to serve the community while learning skills that may prove valuable, not only in their future careers, but also to their futures as volunteer contributors and community leaders, Mowry said.
For example, Barbara Blackdeer-Mackenzie, Knight Journalist in Residence and visiting faculty member in the communications and journalism department, involved an entire class of 27 students in a project to write a public relations campaign proposal for Eau Claire's L.E. Phillips Senior Center. The proposal covers activities, volunteers, media, transportation, information management, consumer relations and financial/investor relations.
"I looked for an opportunity where our 'Public Relations Campaigns' class could do some actual PR campaign work," said Blackdeer-Mackenzie. "L.E. Phillips Senior Center was very gracious to let 27 ambitious students ask lots of questions. As a student, it was always important to me to see how concepts I learned would apply to my future. As an instructor, I try to make that a priority in my students' experiences."
Laura Hookom, director of the senior center, says they have already used the resources put together by the students extensively in their public relations campaign.
"They did all the groundwork and we just had to customize it a little for our needs," Hookom said, noting that service-learning students also help in the center's computer lab and classes, which are taught by retired members of the university faculty. "The students' energy and patience is tremendous."
Rick Magyar, a resource planner and GIS specialist in the Chippewa County land conservation department, said students completing their service-learning requirements, as well as student interns, have been helpful in his department and the partnership has worked out well.
Geography students have helped with routine things like going out and using GPS to record the locations of new wells in the county, and then inputting the information in the GIS database the county maintains, which allows the county to keep track of everything from patterns of new development to water testing results, Magyar said.
"We always try to give them other interesting projects that come along too, like producing GIS layers of the early vegetation or bedrock geology of Chippewa County," said Magyar, noting that he believes students leave his department having learned a great deal, and that the county benefits from their efforts.
At the recognition breakfast, which will begin with a welcome from Chancellor Donald Mash, a community partner and a faculty/staff mentor will comment on the experience of working with service-learning projects and students. Selected students also will talk about how their service-learning experiences have affected them and how they have benefited the community.
"This will be a day of well-deserved recognition," said Mowry. "A day when we take notice of the outstanding civic behaviors of our students, civic engagement of our faculty, educational contributions of our community partners, and the resulting enhanced community for us all."
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 10, 2002